Forget Marko Arnautovic, here are four Romelu Lukaku alternatives for Man United

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Maxi Gomez (r) in action against Barcelona.

Manchester United fans around the world awoke on Thursday to pictures of manager Jose Mourinho taking in Austria’s friendly against Russia.

This appeared to signal the moment when transfer rumours about West Ham United’s Marko Arnautovic became real.

A desire to acquire an imposing back-up to Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is understandable, especially after slender forwards Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both failed to fill the vacuum at the end of 2017/18.

Arnautovic, who responded with a fine assist in a 1-0 friendly triumph against World Cup 2018 hosts Russia, plus Juventus and Croatia attacker Mario Mandzukic, have been linked to the Premier League runners-up.

Here are four alternative targets, who fit the brief of adding quality to the squad and potentially being content with a No2 role.


Celta de Vigo v Real Madrid - La Liga

Uruguay’s production line of elite strikers shows no sign of stopping.

From Diego Forlan to Luis Suarez. And now, Edinson Cavani to Gomez.

The 21-year-old powerhouse experienced an outstanding debut campaign in Galicia, notching 17 times in 26 La Liga matches. This figure is made even more impressive by the fact that Celta Vigo finished in 13th.

Just €4 million (Dh17.2m) was paid to Defensor Sporting to land Gomez in May 2017, on a five-year deal.

He would not come cheap, with Chinese Super League outfit Beijing Guoan’s €20m (Dh85.8m) offer ultimately failing in December.

Neither would it be easy to convince him to sit on the bench. But his youth could make Old Trafford seem a perfect learning ground.


AC Milan v Benevento Calcio - Serie A

The dangers of choosing the wrong move at the wrong time have been shown by Silva this term.

He was acquired to much fanfare last summer from Porto for €38m (Dh163m). But the Portugal centre forward would be misused by Vincenzo Montella and then underutilised by Gennaro Gattuso, ending his debut Serie A-campaign at AC Milan with just two goals in 24 appearances.

This might seem like a player best avoided by United.

But a 22-year-old of this ability should not be written off after one miserable experience.

Silva was a bustling, confident presence at Porto. He’s already notched more than 10 times for his nation.

A shot of confidence from countryman Mourinho could be key to unlocking a latent talent.


FC Krasnodar vs FC SKA Khabarovsk - Russian Premier League

Misery is the prediction for hosts Russia at this summer’s World Cup.

But one player expected to still excel is Smolov. The 28-year-old has been a late bloomer in his career, 63 goals coming in 99 matches since June 2015’s switch to Krasnodar.

Previously, he’d only scored 16 times in total from 155 run-outs at Dynamo Moscow, Feyenoord, Anzhi Makhachkala and Ural Yekaterinburg.

A move to centre forward has been the catalyst for this dramatic upturn for the tall Saratov-native.

He now carries the weight of a nation’s hopes. As a bullish player for club and country, this test shouldn’t phase him.

Added values for Mourinho are Smolov’s ability to link-up play, plus versatility across the front line.

If he can produce standout displays in an average side this summer, bids could be made.


AZ Alkmaar vs SC Cambuur - Cup Semifinal

They don’t come much larger than new Netherlands cap, Weghorst.

Standing at 6 ft 6 in, he is a towering figure for club and country. An outstanding, career-best return for AZ Alkmaar of 27 goals in 37 matches during 2017/18 for AZ Alkmaar was rewarded with March’s international debut as a substitute against England.

With such a striking frame and eye-catching return, Weghorst would appear capable of meeting the physical demands of leading the line at Old Trafford.

He also offers a surprising turn of pace for a man of his colossal size, while six top-flight assists last term point to a valuable team ethic.

The issue with Weghorst comes from the chasm between the Eredivisie and Premier League. As is repeated every time a player from there is linked, for every Ruud van Nistelrooy there are more failures such as Mateja Kezman, Afonso Alves and Luuk de Jong.

Where Weghorst would fit in is an issue United’s scouts would already have grappled with.

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